The Israel-Palestine Crisis: An Outlook
Written by Shreya Datta
Illustrated by Ayushi Banerjee
Edited by Anvita Tripathi
The Israel-Palestine conflict has been called the world’s most enduring and long lasting occupation, with the Israeli hostilities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching more than fifty-three years. And without doubt, several efforts have been made to resolve this crisis. Yet, today, we stand before a conflict so intense, it has caught the attention of news media all over the world. But what exactly was the root of this bloodshed? Who does it affect the most? Here to answer all the questions and more, Perspectoverse’s Shreya Datta presents: The Israel-Palestine Crisis: An Outlook.
Imagine you are watching your favourite movie from the comfort of your home and you hear the groans of an airplane above your flat. Do you bother or ponder about it? What is its purpose? Where is it headed? Or do you go on to gorge on another episode of Suits? Now imagine you are living in the midst of the historical lands of Palestine. Regrettably, you don’t have a television to check the news so you listen to the radio. You hear an airplane. You panic and then you pause. You thank God and count your blessings, within a moment's time you hear a resounding crash. You are safe. Your house is safe. You get to live another day.
The ongoing violence in Jerusalem is a culmination of tensions building up since mid-April. The conflict was triggered again when Israeli police set up barricades at the Damascus Gate, the only entrance to Jerusalem from Palestine. This led to clashes. Last week, close to a scheduled Israeli Supreme Court hearing on the eviction of Palestinian families in an Arab neighbourhood of Jerusalem, tensions escalated. Israeli police entered the Haram al-Sharif compound (Noble Sanctuary), which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, to disperse the protesters, injuring hundreds of Palestinians.
The face of the Palestine front is the extremist group Hamas. From the late 1970s, activists connected with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood established a network of charities, clinics, and schools and became active in the territories (the Gaza Strip and West Bank) occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War. In Gaza they were active in many mosques, while their activities in the West Bank generally were limited to the universities. The Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in these areas were generally nonviolent, but a number of small groups in the occupied territories began to call for jihad, or holy war, against Israel. Hamas soon began to act independently of other Palestinian organizations, generating animosity between the group and its secular nationalist counterparts. Increasingly violent Hamas attacks on civilian and military targets impelled Israel to arrest a number of Hamas leaders in 1989, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement’s founder. In the years that followed, Hamas underwent reorganization to reinforce its command structure and locate key leaders out of Israel’s reach.
In its early days, the group carried out deadly shootings and kidnappings of Israelis. It killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, which erupted in late 2000.
As violence spread, the group started producing rudimentary “Qassam” rockets. After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas assembled a secret supply line from longtime patrons Iran and Syria, according to Israel’s military. Longer-range rockets, powerful explosives, metal and machinery flooded Gaza’s southern border with Egypt. Experts say the rockets were shipped to Sudan, trucked across Egypt’s vast desert and smuggled through a warren of narrow tunnels beneath the Sinai Peninsula.
Unfortunately, the conflict becomes difficult to understand because of violence on both sides by the different extremist groups. However, in the recent conflict, it becomes increasingly evident that Israel should not be retaliating the way it is. If Israel launches 500 rockets to attack Gaza and the West Bank, 500 of those rockets will land and cause collateral damage. If Hamas launches 500 rockets to attack Israelian territory, only 5-10 will reach land due to the massive infrastructure of the iron dome.
An image from the BBC shows how the iron dome functions.
Forbes magazine carried a statistic that roughly estimated the human cost of the Iraeli-Palestinian conflict. The total deaths of people from Palestine was 5590, while that of Israel is 251. Gaza is the tract and belt Israel targets, also known as an open prison. Violence on both sides should be condemned but the extent to which Palestine is affected and that of Israel is incomparable. Both sides deserve peace but killing Palestines and annexing their land is not a way in which that can be achieved. There is a stark power divide between these two states which has to be recognised by Israel and the United States, who continue to fuel the situation.